A Fort Carson sergeant was sentenced to life in prison after being convicted Thursday of killing a fellow soldier by sneaking into her unlocked room and stabbing her dozens of times.
Sgt. Vincinte Jackson stood at attention as a military panel pronounced him guilty of unpremeditated murder — a lesser charge than the premeditated murder conviction prosecutors had sought in the killing of Spc. Brandy Fonteneaux.
Unpremeditated murder means he intended to kill or inflict great bodily harm — but never conjured plans to do so. Jackson, 41, will be eligible for parole in 20 years.
Fonteneaux’s cousin, who reported her missing on Jan. 8, looked skyward as her eyes welled.
“Thank you Jesus,” Lore Woods-Malloy whispered. Minutes later, she, Fonteneaux’s mother and aunt were outside the courthouse, clutching their phones and spreading the news.
The military jurors didn’t buy the defense that Jackson suffered a hallucinogenic reaction to the pills, which he took on and off for six years. Jackson confessed the killing to his best friend, saying he heard voices and watched in horror as he cut and stabbed Fonteneaux 74 times.
Jackson was found lying face down, bleeding in his barracks room in an apparent attempt to kill himself.
He did not take the stand during his court-martial but spoke during the sentencing hearing Thursday evening that followed his conviction.
“I want to start off by apologizing from the bottom of my heart,” he said, reading from a prepared statement. “Words cannot express the horror at knowing I ended a life, a child of God.”
Over and over, he repeated the word “sorry.” He wept, speaking through tears.
“I am still confused to this day. ... Why couldn’t I just leave?” he said.
“After hearing from doctors, some of what happened has started to make sense. I take full responsibility... even if I don’t feel like I was in control of myself.”
Prosecutors showed pictures of Fonteneaux’s autopsy and the dozens of wounds across her body as Maj. Jonathan Lambert argued for a life sentence without parole.
Lambert recounted how Jackson woke Fonteneaux, grabbed her from bed and stabbed her repeatedly.
Defense attorneys asked for 28 years of prison — one for each year that Fonteneaux would have been alive had the attack not happened.
“In a lot of ways, the easy thought is a life for a life,” said Melissa Dasgupta-Smith, a defense attorney. “That was his first thought too. Even the score.”
The three-and-a-half hour sentencing hearing revealed a picture of two soldiers who only occasionally spoke at work while living very different lives.
Jackson, who suffered a shrapnel wound in Afghanistan, appeared to be on his way out of the Army. A medical board cleared him for retirement — leaving him weeks from living in California, where his ex-wife and two teenage daughters live.
A picture of Jackson with his family appeared on a screen behind Willie Jackson, the sergeant’s father, as he testified. Minutes later, when reflecting on the attack, his voice cracked.
“I’ve been in denial because it’s not my son that did this thing,” Willie Jackson said.
Fonteneaux’s family recalled a woman who had just returned from a visit with her family in Texas a few days before the attack.
She was a superb athlete — anchoring the 4x100 and 4x200 meter races in college — who held off getting her commission in the Army so she could first serve as an enlisted soldier.
“She was my flower girl,” said Woods-Malloy, who referred to Fonteneaux as her sister. “My job — oh god. I can no longer really focus on my job as I should.
“For me, 11 months, seven days feels like yesterday.”
She refused to accept Jackson’s apology a few hours after breaking down in tears on the stand.
Looking up from his prepared statement, Jackson looked at the gallery.
“There’s no words that can explain it more: I am sorry,” he said. “I don’t have anything else to say.
“I mean I…” he said, fading into silence.
Across the courtroom, Woods-Malloy sat silently and shook her head.